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Archive for the ‘Santana’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Okilly Dokilly

When I heard about Okilly Dokilly from The Simpsons, I knew that I would like to see them live.  So, when it was announced that they would be playing with Mac Sabbath (who I’d never heard of), at a venue fairly close to me, I grabbed a ticket.  Hilariously (although not for me), this show apparently sold so poorly that by a week before the event, the venue was literally giving tickets away.  So I signed up for free tickets and then couldn’t get anyone to go with me.  Oh well.

When I saw their video for “White Wine Spritzer,” in the credits of The Simpsons (clip at bottom of page), I loved the idea of a heavy metal band comprised of many Ned Flanders (technically: Head Ned (vocals), Dread Ned (drums), Shred Ned (guitar), Bed Ned (bass) and Zed Ned (synth)).  But I was a little disappointed that the vocals they chose to use were so cookie monster/growly.  I mean, it makes huge comic sense to have Ned sing like that, but it’s disappointing to not be able to understand all of  the lyrics which are “75 per cent made up of Ned Flanders’ quotes.”

But this band is dedicated to their craft 100%. (more…)

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6616 SOUNDTRACK: CHUCK BROWN-Tiny Desk Concert #217 (May 16, 2012).

chuckI’m puzzled by a few things with this Tiny Desk Concert.  The first is a note that This story originally ran on Sept. 28, 2010.  The second is the note that Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go music, died Wednesday. In 2010, he brought his full band to the NPR Music office — and put on a party like no one else.

That isn’t confusing in itself, but I have to wonder why it took them two years to air this concert, which is quite a fun rave up.  Are there other shows they didn’t air?

Okay, so I had no idea who Chuck Brown was.  And the blurb anticipated that

The name Chuck Brown might not mean a whole lot to people outside the Washington, D.C., area. … In D.C., Brown is widely known, even revered, as the Godfather of Go-Go, a title he’s held since the late ’70s. Though he started out as a jazz guitarist, Brown invented go-go, a style that incorporates funk, jazz, R&B, hip-hop and dancehall, and has mostly stuck with it ever since.

So, Go-Go, huh?  I never heard of that either.

No one in D.C. can really explain why go-go hasn’t traveled beyond the city’s environs — we love it here, it’s all over our commercial R&B and hip-hop radio stations and, at least when I was in high school, a go-go in a school’s gym was the most packed party of the weekend. Chuck Brown is a local hero. A few days after he played our offices, Brown and his whole band played at the Redskins’ stadium for the halftime show.  So to have Brown play a corner of our office — not a 90,000-capacity football stadium — was like a dream come true for a lot of NPR staffers. Sweat started pouring immediately, between the 11 musicians (that’s congas and a stripped-down kit; saxophone, trumpet and trombone; two backup singers and a rapper) and all the go-go-heads in our building.

Brown played four songs for about 25 minutes.

Go-go is mostly about the groove, though, and Chuck Brown just settles in and leans back. He showed up looking like a million bucks in a vest, Dior shades and his signature hat, and then he did what he does best — get the crowd on his side and hand its members something to dance to.

Go-go is based on a syncopated beat and the use of congas in addition to drums.  So “Senorita” is like a combination of reggae salsa and 50s singing (I can’t help but think he sounds like Frank Zappa when Zappa does his rather funny voice).  The song is slow but smoldering and fun to sing along to.  There’s a Santana guitar vibe too.

“Chuck Baby” is the hip hop element of his music.  His rapper is not very inspiring though.  She seems a little stiff.  And the song is a little flat when he’s doing the call and response–he sounds cool and seductive and they sound more bored than “naughty.”

Before the third song everyone starts chanting “wind me up chuck!” which he lets everyone know www.windmeupchuck.com is his website. “Wind Me Up!” / “Bustin’ Loose” starts with lots of call and response.  “Bustin’ Loose,” is a funky song with very James Brown accents and everyone singing the refrain: “Gimmethebridgenow, gimmethebridgenow.”  The song has been a hit in D.C. since 1979.  The backing vocalist on this song feels a bit looser (apparent as she sings “I feel like bustin’ loose).

The crowd was yelling out requests, too: “Chuck Baby” and “Run Joe,” a go-go cover of the Louis Jordan song.  “Run Joe” / “It Don’t Mean A Thing.”  “Run Joe” has a Jamaican flair “Policeman is on the premises.  What is he doin’ here?”  His guitar playing is really inspired throughout the set, but especially at the end of this song.   He does a lot of playing the same melody as he sings.  The song segues into a version of “It Don’t Mean a Thing” in which he slips in “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that go-go swing.”

This set was really a party.  And Brown was just full of energy.

[READ: January 12, 2017] “Surrendering”

The June 6 & 13, 2016 issue of the New Yorker was the Fiction Issue.  It also contained five one page reflections about “Childhood Reading.” 

This reflection beings with Vuong explaining that his family moved to the U.S. from Vietnam when he was two.  He was an ESL student from a family of illiterate rice farmers who saw reading as snobby.

When he entered kindergarten, he found himself immersed in a new language.  He quickly became fluent in speech but not in the written word.  In fourth grade his class was given an assignment to write a poem in honor of National Poetry Month.  Normally his poor writing skills would mean that he was excused from such assignments.  He would spend time copying sentences out of books in the classroom.  But this time he decided to be ambitious and write a poem. (more…)

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enchanteSOUNDTRACK: OS MUTANTES-Fool Metal Jack (2013).

jackI first heard this album streaming on NPR.  I really enjoyed it and was surprised by how diverse and yet still kinda 1970s hippie-feeling it was.

I didn’t know anything about the music of Os Mutantes before hearing this disc.  In a nutshell (and the details seem pretty complicated), they released 6 albums from 1968-1974 and then broke up.  They reunited in 2009 and this is their second album after reuniting.

I don’t know what any of them did during the intervening years, but it is clear that the psychedelic vibe they explored the first time around never fully left them.  Because even though there are rocking numbers, there are plenty of groovy organs and songs about love on the disc.  And yet the first songs I heard from the album were really quite rocking, so I was surprised by the mellow vibe as the album progresses.

There’s precious little information about the record on the record jacket, but I do know that Sérgio Dias wrote all the music and is the lead singer.  The disc opens with a kind of introductory song, “The Dream is Gone.”  It has a slow opening with cool bass lines and Dias’ voice which is soft and kind of worn sounding.  There are some cool electronic effects sprinkled around and big harmonies.  This leads to the second song, the stomping anti-war track, “Fool Metal Jack” (which I talked about here).  It’s got a big fat bass and menacing riff (as befits a war song). The song is graphic and ugly (with a loud cough in the midst of a verse).  It’s followed by the big old sloppy sounding rocker “Picadilly Willie” with big 70s sounding vocals (I’ve mentioned before that it sounds like Frank Zappa song to me, and it still does). These two songs are so loud and noisy they really belie the psychedelic vibe that the rest of the disc presents.

“Gangjaman” has a reggae feel (with a big round bass) and fun backing vocals.  While “Lookout” has a kind of Santana live at Woodstock vibe–a slinky rocking guitar and big chords.  There’s also some traditional (I assume) Brazilian native singers.  “Eu Descobri” is sung by a female vocalist (in Portuguese I assume) it is a pretty, slinky song with flutes and a cello and echoed vocals.  It hearkens back to the late 60s but still sounds contemporary.

“Time and Space” has more big bass (the bass really sounds great on this disc), but this one is a slow acoustic umber with excellent harmonies.  I love the layered vocals that reminds me of good prog.  “To Make It Beautiful” is an absolute hippie track with lyrics like: “I need to create love with you my love.” It has his great falsetto and buzzy guitars.  It is so far away from the early rockers and yet to me the album doesn’t feel disjointed.  “Once Upon a Flight” is a synthy/guitar rocker, but in a very 70s style. It’s also got a big cello solo at the end.  “Into Limbo” is a jangly slow guitar song with Dias’ voice sounding great.

“Bangladesh” has a long acoustic guitar intro with a very middle eastern feel.  By the middle it turns into a kind of prayer with a repeated chorus of: “Hare Jesus Hare Buddha Hare Judas Hare Rama Hare Krishna Hare Lucifer.”  The final song “Valse LSD” is a complex acoustic song with male and female vocals.  It’s quite pretty.  It doesn’t really feel like the end of the disc (I would have ended with “Bangladesh”), but it’s a good summary of the album as a whole.

 Since I am unfamiliar with Os Mutantes’ earlier work, I can’t really say how this fits into their discography, but I think this is just a great album and I’m looking forward to hearing more of their earlier works.

[READ: October 2, 2014] The Enchanter

naboI have had Nabokov on my list of authors to read for a long time.  I have read and enjoyed a few of his books and planned to read his oeuvre at some point, just not quite yet.  And then, as serendipity would have it, I stumbled on a book of his novellas (the Penguin classic edition) and decided to read them.  Because they aren’t really meant to be taken as one item, I’m going to mention them individually.

The Enchanter was Nabokov’s final work written in Russian.  It was never published during his lifetime.  The Notes to the story in the book suggests that Nabokov had a vague recollection of the story (with many details incorrect), but that he believed he discarded the original version when he moved to America.  He evidently found it after publishing Lolita, but did not feel compelled to publish it.  It was his son who translated and published it after his death.

The Enchanter is something of a precursor to Lolita in that it involves a man who is obsessed with adolescent girls.  What separates this from Lolita (although there are many similar plot contrivances) is the mental state of the protagonist.  He is disgusted by himself.  He knows what he does is wrong, he even imagines himself in animalistic ways.  And yet he cannot help himself.  (This is not to say that that is not present in Lolita, just that it is more or less the focus here). (more…)

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wallsSOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Round Room (2002).

round After Farmhouse, Phish went on a hiatus.  No one knew it would be quite so brief, but there was really a feeling that they were done.

And then they quietly released Round Room in 2002.  And it bursts forth with an 11 minute song.

“Pebbles and Marbles” has an interesting riff—complex and pretty.  And when I listened to it again recently I didn’t really quite recognize it.  But that’s because it’s nearly 12 minutes long and the really catchy part comes later in the song.  At around 5 minutes, the catchy chorus of “pebbles and marbles and things on my mind” announces itself.  And it is a good one.

“Anything but Me” is a pretty, mature song that is slow and piano heavy.  “Round Room” is a boppy little ditty (clearly a song written by Mike).  It is sweet and a little weird.  “Mexican Cousin” sounds a lot like a cover (maybe an old song by The Band) except for the solo which is very Trey.  It’s a funny, silly ode to Tequila.  “Friday” is a slow six minute song with two sections.  The verses are spaced out a bit, delicate riffs that are mostly piano once again.  The middle section is sung by Mike (which makes it more mellow somehow).

“Seven Below” is an 8 minute song.  It has another great riff (and the intro music is cool and bouncey).  When the vocals come in, it’s got gentle harmonies as they croon the sweet song).  Most of the 8 minutes are taking up with a guitar solo.  “Mock Song” is another of Mike’s songs.  This one seems to be a random selection of items sung to a nice melody.  Then when the chorus comes it’s quite nice, how this is a “just a mock song.”  The first verse is sung by Mike, then Trey does a kind of fugue vocal with different words in verse two.

“46 Days” opens with funky cowbells and turns into what seems like a classic rocking folk song—few words but a great classic rock melody (complete with 70s era keyboards).  “All of These Dreams” is a mellow piano piece, another mature song.  “Walls of the Cave” has an interesting piano melody that opens the song. The song is nearly ten minutes long and the middle part has a nice flowing feel to it.  There’s also a few sections that are separated be drum breaks—something that doesn’t often happen in Phish songs.  When the third part opens (to almost exclusively percussion, their vocals all work in a very nice harmony.  It’s a long song but with so many parts it always stays interesting.  “Thunderhead” is another piano-based song with some guitar riffs thrown on top. But it is largely a slow, mellow piece.

“Waves” is an 11 minute song with long instrumental passages.  It also begins with a kind of Santana feel to it, but it is a largely meandering song, with a simple melody that they stretch out for much of the song.  So this album proves to be an interesting mix of long jams and mellow ballady type songs.  It seems like Phish had a big mix of things to let loose.

[READ: November 1, 2013] If Walls Could Talk

This book reminds me of the work of Mary Roach—exploring a topic in great detail and including lots of amusing insights.  The two big differences here are that Worsley is British and that she goes back very far in British history to give us this fascinating information about the development of certain rooms of the house.

Worsley begins with the bedroom.  She looks at the furniture—the history of the bed from lumps with straw to fantastically ornate full poster beds that were made for kings who might never actually use them.

Then she moves on to more personal matters—sex (including deviant sex and venereal disease); breast feeding (for centuries mothers felt they were not equipped to take care of and nurse their own children, hence wet-nurses) and knickers (royalty had an entourage designed specifically to assist with underthings).  Indeed, privacy was an unknown thing in olden times.  Even royalty was expected to receive people in all of the rooms in the house.  Initially the bed chamber was for their most intimate friends, not just for sleeping.

The section on old medicine was also fascinating, they believed that it was vaporous miasma that did you more harm than say, excrement-filled water.

The section on Sleep discusses what was also in a recent article by Gideon Lewis-Kraus—that there were two sleep times at night.  With no electricity there was no artificial light to keep people up late so they would go to sleep early, wake up in the middle of the night (the best time for conception of children) and then sleep again. (more…)

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